CCHIT certification for homegrown EHRs proves worthwhile

For some providers, the option of buying a new certified electronic health record system would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and countless hours to retrain staff. That’s why some organizations are turning to a new certification program established by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) for older homegrown systems.

In late July, CCHIT announced that five new organizations joined Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in certifying complete or modular EHRs under its EHR Alternative Certification for Healthcare Providers, or EACH. The EACH program is an ONC-ATCB 2011/2012 certification program for already-installed EHR technology.

The other organizations are Health Management Associates, New York University Langone Medical Center, Northwestern University, Tenet Healthsystem Medical and the University of North Carolina Health Care.

Robert G. Berger MD, chief medical officer, associate chief of staff for the University of North Carolina Health Care System and professor of Medicine and Pharmacy at UNC said the university has been using a system he and others at UNC developed in 1991 called WebCIS.

Berger said the homegrown system is somewhat unique and has served UNC well. “We were perfect to do the EACH certification,” he said. With some of our system commercial and some homegrown, we didn’t want to rip everything out and start all over.” Berger estimated the cost of starting over at somewhere near $300 million.

Naomi Levinthal, CCHIT’s EACH certification manager, said hundreds of other organizations and doctors are signed up for EACH, with many planning to achieve certification by the end of August. There is a specific part of the program designed for physicians, although some solo practitioners might not find it financially feasible.

Paul Salmon meaningful use program manager and HIE program manager at Health Management Associates worked directly with Health Management’s 59 hospitals in 15 states on EACH certification.

“Our time-line was very accelerated and the EACH program allowed us to make our milestones and achieve meaningful use certification,” he said. “We achieved modular certification for 18 criteria using our Pulse system and the other criteria were achieved using Midas+ CQM and ProMed EDIS.”

Salmon said there were some challenges, but CCHIT helped make the process easier with conference calls, Web tools, and one-on-one counseling. “We found it to be a very personalized service,” he said.

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“With some of our system commercial and some homegrown, we didn’t want to rip everything out and start all over.”

– Robert Berger, MD

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